In the age of the cloud, integration is everything. What was once a labor-intensive service is rapidly becoming a set of capabilities in the cloud that IT organizations can dynamically invoke as needed. We’re still some distance from making that integration process completely turnkey. But we’re getting a little closer with each passing day.
In recognition of that new reality, systems integrators have begun turning their services into products. The latest case in point is Deloitte, which at the Dreamforce 2013 conference this week launched CloudMix, an integration service in the cloud that leverages Deloitte's best practices alongside integration technologies from Salesforce.com, MuleSoft, Apttus and others.
To facilitate integration across the cloud spectrum, Deloitte is standardizing on CloudMix's combination of technologies, according to Paul Clemmons, consulting emerging technologies leader for Deloitte. In some cases, that integration may require a relatively simple API. In other cases, it will require a complete suite of service-oriented architecture services to handle complex workflows involving multiple back-end systems.
CloudMix will include multi-channel e-commerce offerings alongside capabilities such as Procure to Pay, Insights to Action, and Tweet to Care, which are intended to allow customers to invoke a business process in the cloud instead of having to cobble together various technologies themselves.
Right now Deloitte is focused on providing a platform for integrating applications within its own user interfaces. But Clemmons notes that Deloitte has another offering, called the UX Suite, under which it builds custom user interfaces for clients. The ultimate goal, says Clemmons, is to help companies create their own standard user interface to access multiple back-end systems via CloudMix without requiring end users to navigate multiple user interfaces.
As services increasingly become products in the cloud, the days of being able to bill customers for massive integration projects on a time and material basis are starting to come to a close. With more of the actual integration taking place in the cloud, the need to stand up massive amounts of on-premises middleware to handle integration issues has been sharply reduced. That said, Clemmons notes that customers have invested massive amounts in on-premise systems, which is why CloudMix includes components for integrating legacy applications with emerging cloud applications.
Obviously, integration services firms such as Deloitte are hoping that integration services lead to more business consulting opportunities. After all, application integration has always been a means to a much larger business process integration end.